MUST-DO PLUMBING MAINTENANCE FOR THE FALL
Ready or not, winter will be here in just a few short weeks. Before things start to freeze, you have to tackle the must-do plumbing tasks.
Seasonal Maintenance For Your Outdoor HVAC Unit
Too many homeowners take their HVAC systems for granted, only addressing concerns when something goes wrong. That is a backward approach. It is less cost-effective and can have a big impact on things like utility costs.
8 advantages of a central air conditioning and heating system
Hot summers and bitter cold winters make having air conditioning and heating a necessity. So what are the advantages of a central system to keep us comfortable while saving energy?
You naturally want a system with the most benefits. Do you heat and cool centrally? Or room by room? If you are looking for efficiency, comfort and savings for air conditioning and heating, advantages of the central system win.
Get options with your central heating and cooling system
A central heating system is placed in one efficient location in your home. That boiler, furnace or heat pump heats air or water to distribute warmth throughout the rest of the system – the pipes or ducts – all over your home.
Once in place, central heating and air conditioning becomes part of your home’s structure and environment, inside and out. It’s good to weigh your options so you install the system that best suits your needs.
What do you prefer, water or air?
With hydronic heating with a boiler, water radiates warmth from in-floor pipes or radiators. Hydronic or radiant heating tends to be even, clean and quiet. The drawback? If you live in a region with very warm summer months, you don’t get ducts to support central air conditioning.
Most people choose a forced air system with ducts that can deliver warm air in the winter and cool air in the summer. The forced air systems don’t have the environmentally friendly reputation of the hydronic ones, but you can see how having both heating and cooling options in one system is very desirable in most provinces.
You can’t deny the powers of circulation and distribution
In a rural area not connected to natural gas lines? Avoiding electric heating because of rising costs or an aversion to coal-fired power plants? Are you considering a heat pump to save money and cut fossil fuel use? Every option has its charms, but each system has the advantages of the central system: effective circulation and even distribution of warm or cool air.
In fact, the standard list of advantages for any central heating and cooling system includes:
- Quick response to temperature changes
- Air filtration and adjusted humidity for comfortable, healthy indoor air
- Humidification and dehumidification with central air conditioning
- Year-round use for cleaning and circulating fresh air
- Safer indoor air quality than wood-burning stoves or inserts
- New technology with compact equipment and full automation
- Quiet operation with built-in vents and registers
- Lower fuel costs with heat pump options
Exploring your options for the best air conditioning and heating? Advantages of the central system are quite attractive. Just contact your local Green Apple Mechanical NJ heating and cooling contractor toll free at 888-611-7191 for more information.
The Best Ways To Ensure Air Conditioning Operation
If your system is not working to its full capacity, you will continue to see your energy costs rise while at the same time your air conditioner is not providing much comfort. Here are 10 ways to maintain efficient air conditioning operation:
1) Regular Maintenance Check
Having a professional maintenance check before the summer season begins can save a lot of time, repairs and money. The professional you hire will give your system a thorough check and recommend any repairs that might be needed.
2) Ensure Thermostat is Working
If your thermostat is giving the wrong reading, then you may be overworking your air conditioning system when it’s not necessary. These units are usually reliable, but can become faulty due to age or electrical issues. Here’s a process you can use to determine whether your unit is working properly.
3) Install a Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat will get the most accurate temperature for cooling your home, which will save on energy costs. Older model thermostats are set manually by sliding a control handle or knob to a preferred setting. Temperature settings become more difficult to pinpoint because of this.
Modern thermostats are digital, programmable and more reliable. They can easily be set to use less energy for cooling a home when no one is there. Installing one in your home will make it more energy efficient.
4) Check Ducts and Seals
An air duct is a tubing used to connect the air conditioning system to each room in the house. A maintenance check for leaks in ductwork is necessary to maintain energy efficiency. Leaks will slow down and often prevent air from dispensing properly in your home.
Seals that have been exposed to excess moisture can easily break. Mastic tape or something similar and as durable can seal these leaks. Also, check for broken seals and gaps between windows and doors.
5) Improve Insulation
If you are feeling cold drafts during the wintertime in your home or hot spots in the summer, it may be time to check the insulation in your home. Improving existing insulation can be the answer to reducing your cooling bill.
- You may need to consider hiring a contractor to evaluate your home to find places where an insulation improvement may be beneficial.
- If you decide to do your own evaluations, make sure you have the correct insulation. You can reference energy conservatives for recommendations, such as Energy Star or even the Department of Energy.
- You will also need to know where to place the insulation. Home evaluations or energy audits will tell you where improvements are needed. Generally, check attics and basements.
6) Check / Change / Clean Your Filters
Filters are magnets for dirt and other debris. Therefore, changing or cleaning them on your indoor air conditioning unit should be done often. If not, the flow of air into your home will be blocked. According to Energy.gov, “replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%.”
7) Raise the Thermostat a Bit
For better energy efficiency, set the thermostat for higher temperatures at night and during the day when no one is at home for four hours or more at a time.
8) Clean Your Equipment
While you’ll want to leave major cleaning projects to the professionals, you can do area and surface cleaning on both your indoor and outdoor air conditioning units. Besides a clean filter, removing debris from the outdoor unit and ensuring nothing is blocking the indoor unit can help your system to maintain efficient operation.
9) Limit Use of Heat-Producing Appliances
During the heat of summer, your air conditioning system will work overtime if you are effectively heating your house by using appliances like ovens and hair dryers during the hottest times of the day. Instead, consider cooking outdoors on a grill and using a “cool” setting on your hair dryer.
10) Clean Coils
You can safely clean the visible parts of your evaporator (indoor) and condenser (outdoor) coils if you are comfortable doing this job. Clean coils will ensure that airflow is not limited when your system is in use.
If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll free at 888-611-7191
World Plumbing Day
There are many things that make our lives easier that we often take for granted such as electricity, cell phones, and air conditioning.
I personally would add indoor plumbing to that list mainly because I enjoy the easy convenience of taking a hot shower in the morning and running my dishwasher at night not to mention the most convenient feature of all…an indoor toilet!
And yes, there are still people out there who choose to forgo this modern convenience but I am definitely not one of them. But indoor plumbing not only makes our lives easier, it also plays a critical role in public health.
While we take plumbing for granted when it works, we definitely do not when it doesn’t. Who wants to deal with a sink that won’t drain let alone a toilet that’s backed up and overflowing? Many people take the work of the plumber, the one we call to fix a leak and unclog the drain, for granted and who hasn’t heard a plumber joke or two?
In reality, plumbing, when properly installed and maintained, is critical in ensuring that our health is protected. Unsafe water supply systems within buildings and ineffective sanitation could, and sadly does, lead to significant health problems and even, at times, death.
With an increasing global focus on climate change, the plumbing industry is again a major player whether in relation to water conservation, use and reuse issues or in the installation and maintenance of equipment using renewable sources of energy.
In many developing countries, lack of an effective plumbing infrastructure is a huge factor in the tragic statistics when people do not have access to safe drinking water or to effective sanitation systems. The World Health Organization estimates over three million children under the age of five die each year due to water related diseases.
On a local level, we have seen issues with improperly installed or clogged plumbing vents causing sluggish drains and even worse, allowing unsafe sewer gas to enter the home. Faulty plumbing has also caused waters systems to become contaminated and broken sewer pipes have led to sewage leaking inside and under homes.
For these reasons, March 11 has been designated by the World Plumbing Council (WPC) as World Plumbing Day. The aim of the Day is to raise awareness about the critical role which today’s plumbing industry plays in relation to public health and the health of our planet and the environment. So take the time to thank a plumber for all their hard work in keeping our world a little safer and healthier and a whole lot more convenient.
Cleaning Air Conditioners in the Spring
An air conditioner’s filters, coils, and fins require regular maintenance for the unit to function effectively and efficiently throughout its years of service. Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in air conditioning performance while energy use steadily increases.
AIR CONDITIONER FILTERS
The most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely replace or clean its filters. Clogged, dirty filters block normal airflow and reduce a system’s efficiency significantly. With normal airflow obstructed, air that bypasses the filter may carry dirt directly into the evaporator coil and impair the coil’s heat-absorbing capacity. Replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%.
For central air conditioners, filters are generally located somewhere along the return duct’s length. Common filter locations are in walls, ceilings, furnaces, or in the air conditioner itself. Room air conditioners have a filter mounted in the grill that faces into the room.
Some types of filters are reusable; others must be replaced. They are available in a variety of types and efficiencies. Clean or replace your air conditioning system’s filter or filters every month or two during the cooling season. Filters may need more frequent attention if the air conditioner is in constant use, is subjected to dusty conditions, or you have fur-bearing pets in the house.
AIR CONDITIONER COILS
The air conditioner’s evaporator coil and condenser coil collect dirt over their months and years of service. A clean filter prevents the evaporator coil from soiling quickly. In time, however, the evaporator coil will still collect dirt. This dirt reduces airflow and insulates the coil, reducing its ability to absorb heat. To avoid this problem, check your evaporator coil every year and clean it as necessary.
Outdoor condenser coils can also become very dirty if the outdoor environment is dusty or if there is foliage nearby. You can easily see the condenser coil and notice if dirt is collecting on its fins.
You should minimize dirt and debris near the condenser unit. Your dryer vents, falling leaves, and lawn mower are all potential sources of dirt and debris. Cleaning the area around the coil, removing any debris, and trimming foliage back at least 2 feet (0.6 meters) allow for adequate airflow around the condenser.
The aluminum fins on evaporator and condenser coils are easily bent and can block airflow through the coil. Air conditioning wholesalers sell a tool called a “fin comb” that will comb these fins back into nearly original condition.
Occasionally pass a stiff wire through the unit’s drain channels. Clogged drain channels prevent a unit from reducing humidity, and the resulting excess moisture may discolor walls or carpet.
WINDOW SEALS FOR ROOM AIR CONDITIONERS
At the start of each cooling season, inspect the seal between the air conditioner and the window frame to ensure it makes contact with the unit’s metal case. Moisture can damage this seal, allowing cool air to escape from your house.
PREPARING FOR WINTER
In the winter, either cover your room air conditioner or remove and store it. Covering the outdoor unit of a central air conditioner will protect the unit from winter weather and debris.
HIRING A PROFESSIONAL
When your air conditioner needs more than regular maintenance, hire a professional service technician. A well-trained technician will find and fix problems in your air conditioning system.
The technician should:
- Check for correct amount of refrigerant
- Test for refrigerant leaks using a leak detector
- Capture any refrigerant that must be evacuated from the system, instead of illegally releasing it to the atmosphere
- Check for and seal duct leakage in central systems
- Measure airflow through the evaporator coil
- Verify the correct electric control sequence and make sure that the heating system and cooling system cannot operate simultaneously
- Inspect electric terminals, clean and tighten connections, and apply a non-conductive coating if necessary
- Oil motors and check belts for tightness and wear
- Check the accuracy of the thermostat.
- If you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact your friends at Green Apple Mechanical toll free at 888-611-7191
Spring Furnace Care
Change your furnace filter.
There’s no reason to wait to change the filter in your furnace. Over the winter, your filter operated as the “lungs” of your home. As you can imagine, those “lungs” got pretty dirty in the process of keeping the air clean. If you’re not sure how to change your furnace filter, call Green Apple Mechanical NJ and we’ll arrange to come for an end-of-season house visit. During the visit, we’ll show you how you can change the filter yourself in the future.
Make sure your carbon monoxide monitor is still going strong.
If you didn’t change your carbon monoxide monitor during the “spring forward” time change, do it now. Any indication of carbon monoxide in your home necessitates an immediate call to your gas furnace utility provider after getting your family out of the house to prevent fatalities or illnesses. Once you have protected everyone and the utility has turned off the natural gas to your home, Contact Green Apple Mechanical NJ so it isn’t a danger to your family’s health.
Check your pilot light and burner assembly.
The pilot light and burner assembly are located in your furnace and can be visually inspected. However, many homeowners aren’t certain as to what they are looking for. In this case, it’s always better to get the assistance of an expert so you can be sure the pilot light and burner are a-okay. Occasionally, they may need to be cleaned or replaced.
If you will need a new furnace (or you want to switch from oil to gas or electric), start shopping now.
Most furnaces are operable and efficient for around 15-20 years. This means yours could be on its last legs if you’ve had it for the better part of two decades or even longer. Start investigating your new furnace options during the spring and summer; that way, when you are ready to purchase another furnace in the fall, you’ll have all the information you need to make a smart decision.
As with all home improvement projects, the more preventive steps you take to care for your furnace, the less concerns you’ll have when the weather cools down again.
If you have any questions or concerns feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll free at 888-611-7191
Spring Cleanup Starts With HVAC
- Add an elbow for pipe and extension, although that often leaves the outlet still too close to the house.
- Use a splash guard that stretches about three feet.
- Attach a flexible extension hose to the end of the down-spout and bend it in away from the house.
If you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll free at 888-611-7191
Home Energy Myths
Today more than ever, everybody’s looking for ways to use energy more efficiently around the house and cut down on utility bills. But when it comes to heating, cooling and using home appliances, there are more myths, urban legends, and old-wives-tales out there than you can shake a stick at. In fact, some of the more popular myths that you may think are saving you energy and money are actually doing the opposite.
The time has come to set the energy-efficiency record straight. Here are the facts on some of the most common home energy myths, fallacies and outright falsehoods:
MYTH: Closing off vents and registers will reduce your heating bill.
False. If you have a modern forced air heating system, the pressure load is balanced throughout the house. Blocking the vent will impact how the system inhales and exhales air; it can throw the system out of balance, causing it to have to work harder or possibly break down.
Also the most energy efficient practice you can do is to have heat evenly distributed throughout the house. Blocking vents in certain rooms will make those rooms colder. Because heat moves from greater concentrations to lesser concentrations, these colder rooms will draw heat from other rooms in the house, making the whole house feel colder and causing you to raise the thermostat.
MYTH: Fiberglas insulation alone keeps cold air out of your home.
Fiberglas actually does a better job at keeping heat in than keeping cold out. If you have cracks, air leaks and drafts anywhere in your house, the cold air will seep in no matter how much insulation you have. Air sealing is the most important thing you can do to plug these holes and gaps and keep the chill from creeping in.
MYTH: Leaving a ceiling fan on will cool a room…even when you’re not there.
Fans cool your skin, not the air; they do not lower room temperature. A fan works by circulating the air in a space; when the air moves across the skin, we feel cooler even though the air temperature in the room remains the same. If a fan runs in a room when no one is there, no one is feeling its benefits. So it’s just wasting electricity.
MYTH: Buying an energy efficient furnace or air-conditioner will automatically reduce my energy bill.
Not necessarily true. Even the highest efficiency-rated heaters and air conditioners can cost you more money to operate if they are improperly sized or installed. According to the Department of Energy, shoddy installation and improper sized equipment can waste as much as one-third of your energy consumption.
MYTH: Duct tape is good for sealing ducts.
Duct tapes has many great uses. But despite the name, it actually does a pretty lousy job at sealing ducts. It doesn’t work well in dirty or dusty conditions…and you can’t get dirtier or dustier than an air duct. Also, the tape tends to fall off as it ages and the adhesive dries out. Mastic tape sticks, seals and insulates much better.
MYTH: The higher you set your thermostat, the faster your furnace will heat up your house.
False. Furnaces deliver heat at the same rate no matter how high the thermostat is set. If you set your thermostat at the desired temperature, it will reach that point just as quickly as if you set it higher. And since you’ll probably end up having to move the temperature down a few degrees anyway, you’ll probably wind up using more energy than you intended in the long run.
The same applies to air conditioning. Setting your A/C at full-blast will not make it reach a comfortable temperature any faster. It’s just going to make the room colder and make your system work harder.
MYTH: There’s no benefit in adjusting your thermostat when you don’t need heating or cooling…such as at night or when nobody’s home.
Research shows that the longer your house stays at a reduced temperature when heating or at an increased temperature when cooling, the more energy and money you will save. This is because heating and cooling cost depends mostly on the difference between indoor and outdoor temperature. When you adjust the temperature down in the winter or up in the summer, you simply reduce this temperature difference. In fact, setting your temperature back 10 or more degrees for 8 hours while you sleep or go to work can reduce your energy bill by 5-15%. A programmable thermostat can adjust temperatures automatically for you.
MYTH: Leaving lights, computers and appliances on uses less energy than turning them off and on repeatedly.
This may have been true of computers 20 or more years ago when they were massive energy hogs and prone to energy surge damage and wear & tear. But today’s computers are much more durable and use a lot less energy. The small surge in energy created when any electrical product is turned on is much smaller than the energy used by running the device when it’s not needed. Rule of thumb: any time you can turn a machine or light off, it will save energy.
MYTH: It requires less energy to boil water if you fill your pot with hot water from the tap.
Totally bogus. It takes the same amount of energy to reach the boiling point whether you use hot or cold water. If you use hot water, you’ve already paid to heat the water in your water heater; you may have a headstart of a few degrees, but you’ve already paid for that headstart.
MYTH: A dripping faucet is not all that significant.
Really? Put a bucket underneath and see how quickly those drips add up. A single dripping faucet can add up to 300 or more gallons of water per month. That’s a big chunk of your water bill.
MYTH: Showering uses less energy and water than taking a bath.
This one is true! Taking a 10-minute shower with a low-flow (2.5 gallons per minute) shower head uses 25 gallons of water. A typical bath takes 30-50 gallons. There are high-quality hower heads that use 1.5 gallons per minute or less for even more water and energy efficiency.
MYTH: Energy efficiency increases the initial cost of a home.
Not necessarily. There is little if any correlation between energy efficiency and a home’s purchase price. In some instances, efficiency can even reduce the initial cost when smaller highly-efficient heating and cooling systems are installed. Smaller, high efficiency units generate as much heating or cooling benefits as large, inefficient ones.
MYTH: Energy efficiency doesn’t appeal to home buyers and doesn’t enhance a home’s future sales price of the home.
Not according to the National Association of Home Builders who is actively supporting programs such as the use of ENERGY STAR heaters, air conditioners and appliances, as well as its own Green Building Guidelines. A 2008 NAHB study shows that 51 percent of homebuyers are willing to pay up to $11,000 more if energy costs are reduced by just $1,000 annually.
If you have any questions or concerns about heating or cooling your home feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll free at 888-611-7191
Decoding the Sounds Your Furnace Makes
Furnaces tend to be the one thing in your home that can be neglected. Out of sight, out of mind as they say. However, your furnace may get your attention by making various sounds.
- If you hear a screeching noise, it may be that you have a problem with the motor, or it might be a bearing in the motor that is making the noise.
- If you hear a metallic chirping noise, it may just be a natural noise that the motor or the blower wheel of the fan makes when the heat first kicks on. You might be able to solve this problem yourself by wiggling the wheel, which may be out of alignment. You should also check that the mounting plate is not warped and rubbing against the blower wheel. As well, check that the motor mounts are not loose and the bearings are in good shape.
- If you hear a noisy rattling sound when your furnace shuts off, it is probably the metal parts to your furnace cooling down. However, it may be something more serious and you should call a furnace repairperson.
- If you hear a clanging noise, the problem is probably in the pipes, rather than the furnace itself. This may be caused by contraction of the pipes when the furnace turns off and the pipes cool down.
- A loud boom or thud may lead to the ducts, which can expand and contract in cold weather, especially if the basement is not heated. It might also indicate a problem with dirty burners in the furnace. You might be able to remove and clean these yourself with hot soapy water. Make sure they are completely dry before reinstalling them. If you determine that it is not the ducts or the burners, it may be that your gas valve is defective, which can cause a delayed ignition. In most cases, it is wise to call a service technician.
- A pinging or popping sound is most likely coming from one of the ducts and is not really something to worry about.
- If you hear an odd vibrating noise or whining, it may indicate a problem with your furnace and a technician really needs to check it out.
- A loud humming may come from the furnace burners light when temperatures dip outside. You can eliminate this noise by turning the off/pilot/on control to reduce the burner flame.
- If you hear a rattling noise when the furnace starts up, it might be a motor bearing.
- A crackling noise might just be the metal parts cooling down when the furnace shuts down.
- A clunking and bumping sound indicates a cracked belt.
If you have an older furnace, it is likely that you’ve experienced some of these noises. However, most of the newer gas furnaces have a noise-reduction system. If you determine that you need a professional to inspect your furnace and you live in the New Jersey area, you will want to get in contact with a Green Apple Mechanical technician as soon as possible. So feel free to call toll free at 888-611-7191